Archive for January, 2012

January 20th, 2012

» bs

Things that are bullshit:

  • Being unable to fall asleep.
  • Waking up at 4 am, convinced you’ve slept past the alarm.
  • Waking up again at 5:15.
  • Being fine and happy and yourself one moment, and then having this alien thing wrap its hands around your throat and over your mouth, and just hijack you. Shove You casually aside. Waltz in and start rummaging with your thoughts and your ability to breathe and your total lack of desire to cry. It’s a huge, dark, suffocating presence that insists You are unlovable, and you will die fat and alone, eaten by Alsatians (thanks, Bridget Jones). It reminds you of every mean, careless thing anyone has ever said to you, parades them out as fact. Spins out the story of your worthlessness and future sorrow.

It’s the birth control, I know in these moments, in the part of me that is still me. I watch it happen from that detached place, a little fascinated and no little frustrated. Bewildered. Impatient. Helpless. I, the real me, am happy. I am ready to sleep, to smile, to breathe evenly, to unclench my jaw and tumble into some bright dream. Instead I am crying, like some strange reflex, some alien unstoppable process of the body. Crying the way your leg swings when your knee is tapped, the way you flinch away from something coming at your eye, the way the heart pushes blood. I don’t want them, don’t feel them, but the tears keep pouring out anyhow, and this weird other thing stews in a deaf knot of anxiety and fear. It cannot be reasoned with and will not be sent away. The only thing to do is wait it out.

It’s all especially crazy because I am good! I am happy, and loving life, and even loving winter. Last weekend Eric and I went to the Red Bull Crashed Ice event in St. Paul. It was by the Cathedral, a few miles from his house; we walked down there in the grey cold late afternoon to meet friends for dinner, then went over to the enormous track they’d built for the skaters. A long narrow ribbon of ice, looping down over the Cathedral steps, all turns and drops and lights and crazy hills. We stood outside watching for hours, and by the end I could not stop shivering and couldn’t feel my feet, but I also couldn’t stop smiling. Life, even cold and slick and forbidding, is so good.

January 12th, 2012

» hope

For her wedding, my mom got a cedar hope chest. It’s lived at the base of her bed for as long as I can remember, and recently she replaced the threadbare upholstered top with new fabric. Last night, after admiring that facelift, we cracked open the chest and dug through it. It’s filled with random mementos: newspapers from the days my sister and I were born, my mom’s wedding veil, a cookbook I made for her in first grade, a handful of pocket watches, a few old yearbooks, her mother’s jewelry box, stacks of cards. The thing that caught me most was the card my grandmother gave my mom on her wedding day. The cover is a pair of hands holding a bouquet of red roses; soft-focus, late-70′s. Inside, my grandma’s slanting writing more upright than I knew it, clearer: “May life be wonderful to you.”

What a lovely wish, that. May life be wonderful to you.

January 6th, 2012

» 2011 Playlist

Putting this together was tougher than I expected. I kept starting to listen to stuff with an ear toward how essential it was, if it fit, where it fit — and then I would get swept away in listening to music, and I’d find myself 20 minutes later just bopping along, staring at the latest Go Fug Yourself, thinking about what to make for dinner. Also I really liked the idea of a single cd playlist — which was laughable, considering how hard it was not to include entire albums on the list. I would manage moments of ruthlessness, cutting away some of my favorite songs by an artist, wanting no more than a representative or two from each band — and then I would zone out again, or just throw up my hands.

In the end, here’s what I managed. I was especially happy to be able to come full circle with two of my favorite bands, The National and Iron & Wine. I listened to them a lot (A LOT) (like, really obsessively) at the beginning of the year, and then suddenly couldn’t listen to them at all any more. Then this fall I found out they were both playing in San Fransisco on a weekend I was thinking of going to visit Bryce, and after missing both of them in Minneapolis this year, I couldn’t pass it up. I was a little worried I would fall apart at one or both shows — but I didn’t, not even close. All sweet, no bitter — I was just really happy to be there.

  1. Don’t Carry It All – The Decemberists
  2. Thistled Spring – Horse Feathers
  3. Little Faith – The National
  4. Alabama Pines – Jason Isbell
  5. Our Hearts Are Wrong – Jessica Lea Mayfield
  6. Runaway – The National
  7. Dear Avery – The Decemberists
  8. White Wilderness – John Vanderslice
  9. Sorrow – The National
  10. Middleman – Bright Eyes
  11. England – The National
  12. Backwards Walk – Frightened Rabbit
  13. Overcoat – John Vanderslice
  14. Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
  15. If The Brakeman Turns My Way – Bright Eyes
  16. Walking Far From Home – Iron and Wine
  17. Cleanse Song – Bright Eyes
  18. Swim Until You Can’t See Land – Frightened Rabbit
  19. Belly of June – Horse Feathers
  20. Dog Days Are Over – Florence & The Machine
  21. S&M – Rihanna
  22. Post Break-Up Sex – The Vaccines
  23. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People
  24. Holdin on to Black Metal – My Morning Jacket
  25. Don’t Say Oh Well – Grouplove
  26. Wetsuit – The Vaccines
  27. Bloodbuzz Ohio – The National
  28. Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall – Coldplay
  29. Conversation 16 – The National
  30. Tree By The River – Iron and Wine
  31. Us Against The World – Coldplay

Maybe a little overkill, but I also jotted down my favorite albums of 2011. (Mostly because Noel Gallagher didn’t make it onto the playlist; I really like listening to him, but he doesn’t grab me or encapsulate the year quite the way the rest of that stuff does. But I’ve listened to him a lot in the last couple months, and I want to be able to remember that.)

Favorite albums of 2011:

  • The King is Dead – The Decemberists
  • High Violet – The National
  • Kiss Each Other Clean – Iron & Wine
  • Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes
  • Cassadaga – Bright Eyes
  • What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? – The Vaccines
  • Grouplove (EP) – Grouplove
  • Mylo Xyloto – Coldplay
  • Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher

Lastly — not a good video, but one of my favorite moments during The National’s concert on December 3. It’s the last song of their encore; the band unplugged, and just brought it. I still get tingles thinking about it.